CHAPEL HILL - In the new millennium, cooperation rather than keen-eyed competition may signal a new era of federally funded research for the nation's top scientists who develop and study mouse models of cancer. Such models have revolutionized the ability to probe mammalian biology and human disease. In a bold strategy, a University of North Carolina scientist will share the helm of the Mouse Models of Human Cancer Consortium, a cooperative of 19 university-based research teams from around the nation, each individually funded by the National Cancer Institute, NCI.
"It's really very exciting. It's a paradigm shift in the way most people do science," said Dr. Terry Van Dyke, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UNC-CH School of Medicine. "Most who do science do so independently, are worried about the competition and who gets the credit. Now each team will have some money to work on their own animal models, and pursue their own individual ideas, but will also participate in a larger scale co-operative group.
"There will be extensive sharing of ideas, results and reagents. Furthermore there will be a concerted effort to develop useful technologies and technical support strategies that will benefit the research community at large. For example, if I generate a brain cancer model and another group wants to conduct pre-clinical drug trials, then that model is made available to them."
According to Van Dyke, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the consortium concept arose after NCI director Dr. Richard Klausner challenged national experts to recommend ways to speed research findings in utilizing the powerful mutant mouse technology. He particularly wanted recommendations for using the mouse to learn more about human cancer development with the aim to develop predictive models and to provide an avenue for pre-clinical drug and diagnostics testing.